Was on Cadena Ser's programme "El Larguero" tonight for around 20 mins and this is a transcript I translated of that radio interview, hope you enjoy it.In a hotel on the outskirts of Athens where Paquito Quiroga has improvised a Cadena Ser studio for Alcalá and Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez.[Joserra]- Alcalá, mate, good evening!- Good Evening Joserra, good evening to all.- Give us a picture of where you are and how Rafa Benitez is doing- Well, this is Liverpool’s hotel, it’s in a residential area in the city of Athens, an area far away from the city centre, there are office buildings, a chalet with its garden, fashion shops, expensive restaurants, far…approximately 20-25 km from the better known area of Athens like the neighborhood of Plaka or the historical area of the Acropolis where…by the way…in that historical centre we already see fans in this first day of Champions…a lot more people from England than from Italy…more Liverpool fans than Milan fans…and Rafa Benítez who we have here beside us, when I met him this afternoon in this hotel he seemed a bit upset…this hotel was imposed by the UEFA…it’s not precisely…although the area is fine…It’s a hotel that he didn’t get to pick and well it’s not exactly a five-star hotel…I can tell you as an anecdote that only an hour ago before supper we’ve witnessed a scene where most of the players, well really all of the players, one after another and technical staff have had to change rooms because the original rooms that were set up for them at the check-in this morning didn’t meet the standards…the size of the beds or the condition of the mattresses…I don’t know something a bit improper to receive such an important team as Liverpool who are finalist in this Champions League…He’s filled up a bit more, hope he doesn’t get upset as I mention it, with a couple of more kilos than in the final two years ago in Istanbul… he gets angry like I’ve rarely seen him before when anybody undervalues, unjustly I believe, the work he’s done these three years at Liverpool and his stare lits up…you’d have to see it Jose Ramon…it really lits up when he dreams that perhaps in only 48 hours he could stand the winner of the Champions and like he says it would be an achievement that will be remember in a hundred years…It’s a night of radio from Athens with warm weather, still spring, almost summer…20 degrees at this time and here is who I consider one of the best managers in European football right now…
[Joserra]- Hello Rafa…Good evening…Whats this deal that they make you stay at a hotel of UEFA’s choosing? I didn’t know it was that way.[Rafa] – Good evening… I was asking about this because we had sent three people to scout the hotels and all the organization and they came back so happy because they had found a hotel closer to the stadium than Milan’s and, well, everything seemed to be fine but once we got here we were really surprised with the bedrooms and the beds, no?...small and the mattresses were more like small boats, no? you would fall off the edges as soon as you moved a bit and of course it wasn’t very appropriate for the players and they have changed rooms and now it seems like things are going to be fine but it’s a surprise because it’s not us who get to pick, at least that’s what I was told when I asked and I was like how did we get this hotel and they said it’s UEFA who’ve got the priority or get to pick the hotels, no?[Joserra]Well, when did you arrive?[Rafa] We arrived this morning or… actually…. this afternoon, we left Liverpool very early and as soon as we arrived it was the hotel situation and then we had a light training session, which fortunately the pitch was in good condition and then we got back and changed rooms.[Joserra] What have you done in today’s training session, what did you try?[Rafa] Nah, nothing special…these training sessions as you know always have spies and we do very little… some shots on goal, the warm-up and a little training match but nothing…no clues, no?[Joserra] You’ve been obsessed with this final for a few weeks now I’ve been told. I read an interview you did on Liverpool’s official page and you say “if we win the 6th European Cup people will still be talking of this feat in 100 years”[Rafa] Well the truth is that there are so many interviews and so many answers that at the end I don’t know if…[Joserra]If you even said it!
[Rafa]Yes, I think I did mention something about remembering it for 100 years but, well, like it or not if you think about it we’ve won the 5th and that’s very important because you also keep possession of the actual trophy and that’s a beautiful thing but of course to be able to won the 6th Cup in three years would be an absolute mayhem, no?... I always say that matches always need to be played on the pitch but evidently just being here is something to be proud of, no?[Joserra]And what was the atmosphere like this afternoon on your arrival there in Athens?[Rafa] In terms of supporters and such?[Yes] You notice the difference a lot, no?[laughs] When you arrive in the airport at an English airport you find, strictly, just the necessary people… when you arrive at a continental airport…it happened to us in Portugal…in the Latin countries you usually see 40 or 50 people who probably snuck in [laughs] and you see them wandering around and well the surrounding is different, no? you go back to that same feeling you get at home where the type of behavior you see in the people…the fans are very spontaneous and they approach you very fast whereas in other countries they act more reserved or more respectful in that sense, no?[Joserra] Well you’re stuck there in your world and with your bull[bullfighting reference]the one on Wednesday, Milan…What news are you getting here from Spain or how do you see this final stretch of La Liga for the title race?[Rafa] We do get the news because we get to watch the Spanish League and yesterday we were able to watch some of the matches like Sevilla’s, Madrid against Recre at the end, the goals in the final minutes and Barcelona against Atletico Madrid, your Atletico Madrid which I suppose you’re very sad right now
[Joserra] Well look, I’ve just finished speaking with ‘Pichu’[goalkeeper for Atletico] the poor boy and the truth is that my soul goes out to him because yesterday I spoke to Fernando Torres and Pichu told me the same now that there was such an odd climate this past week surrounding the match as to say “the Atleti fans want Barça to win so that Real Madrid can’t win it” there was such a negative climate that last night Fernando Torres told me that he saw a banner in the stands saying “I have a 2 on the Quiniela don’t fuck it up for me”[Rafa chuckles] Yes it’s true and such a strange atmosphere was created that it didn’t seem like a typical Atleti-Barça[Rafa]Today one of my staff asked me, Did you watch the match? How weird isn’t it? The thing is that Atletico Madrid was fighting for European qualification so it’s not a normal thing for them to lose that way but well it turned out that way and the truth is that it was a strange match…[Joserra]No team throws away the match on purpose that’s evident but I think that the negative climate that surrounded the players all week was far away from the typical atmosphere of excitement that we are used to seeing when Barça come here but this team I don’t know why but we didn’t have that warmth…people only started to get angry when the third and fourth goals,etc went in and then the fifth and sixth and even Sabina left…we created that atmosphere ourselves…[Rafa] I think it’s very difficult for a professional when you’re down 3-0 and I have a bit of experience with that[laughs] you find yourself very down emotionally and then of course if you concede the fourth and you start to realize it’s impossible it’s very difficult…I remember a match when I managed Extremadura and we were playing Celta…Celta were doing quite well…and they scored three goals very quick and I thought “what do I do now?”…we still had the entire second half and part of the first…if I go all out on attack they could end up scoring 5 or 6 and it could be a scandalous trashing but if I stay back and defend I’m going to lose anyway and I won’t have any chance…so then we scored a goal and it was 3-1 so now we have to attack more and we ended up losing 5-1…because when you have that dilemma and the opposing team are better or play better than yours then at the end you don’t know what to do, no?[Joserra] You’ve already got it all clear for Wednesday night but anyway you’ve been a bit…”hermetic”…since the day you eliminated Chelsea and you find the way to the final for the second time in three years and we couldn’t find a way to speak to you, why?[Rafa]No, I have done some interviews, the problem is…[Joserra]Well yes one with AS you did...[laughs] The one with AS I read it and memorized it
[Rafa] [laughs] no, there’s a few out there[Joserra] Did that one have “premeditation, treachery, and nocturnity”[Rafa]No it had provocation alone[Joserra] It had provocation…[Rafa] Yes, because I don’t do any interview about this I’m only responding to a total disrespect against my club and the professionals that have been working for many years, no?
[Joserra] You coincided with Valdano at Madrid when he was in the first team with Cappa as assistant and you were managing the youth team…
[Rafa] No I’ve known him for twenty years…When I was at Castilla youth team and he comes in to Madrid’s B youth team and from there he went to Valparaiso in Larga Conception[?] I think was the second team he had. I’ve known him since then and I’ve known him well…that’s why I don’t want to talk about this issue any more because I know what I say and how I say it and there’s no need to spin it.[Joserra] Yean but people were taken aback by the reaction, no? like saying were did this come from? Like there’s some history behind this…but when you left Castilla, he sacks you correct?[Rafa] No[laughs] That’s why I’m saying I know the story well and I think I should[Joserra] That’s why I ask you, there’s no big deal…[Rafa] No, I left because I had an offer from Valladolid and I left and that’s it
[Joserra] You left so he didn’t sack you[Rafa] No
[Joserra] Because I remember then they brought in the ‘famous’ Egea…Sergio Egea who was the one that participated in that match that Madrid got paid by Almeria to throw away…That’s the legacy he left there and despite this there was never a reprimand and it was well known and later everybody admitted that it was thrown away and I think it was for something like 300.000 pesetas…of the few times It’s been proved publicly that a match was lost for money.
[Rafa] But then they had an internal investigation where it was said it didn’t happen but well
[Joserra] Laughs[Rafa] No need to get into that now because I wasn’t even there then.
[Joserra] Well I had a player from Almeria who told me “Joserra don’t kid yourself”…besides it’s a kid that was from Brunete [Joserra’s small town] who played for Almeria “It was fixed”. But anyway that was a long time ago and it’s a different story but you also had a problem with him because they wanted you to play Sandro, no?[Rafa]Sandro is a phenomenal bloke and I had and still have a very good relationship with him and it was a special situation but I insist that it has nothing to do because what’s going on is that there is a show of disrespect towards Anfield and towards Liverpool and against a staff that must be doing something right, something I don’t mean everything…and there is a colour for every taste and that’s why I responded but from there I don’t want to keep talking about the issue, honestly
[Joserra] Is Liverpool more a team of footballers than individual stars?[Rafa] No, I think we have some very good footballers because Xabi Alonso is a great player, Mascherano is now showing that also, we have Gerrard who everybody talks about, Kuyt is a very good footballer… I think we have players, what happens is that now that I’m talking about players for next season the market is a complete mayhem, so when you have to pay a lot for a player and you pay him a lot also it’s normally because you’re signing top notch players…which we have…but there are other teams that have more…in numbers they have more…so when we talk about Chelsea or United in this case who play in our league or you talk about Barcelona, Madrid or any other club like Milan…there are teams that have a lot of players…lots of very good players…during many years…which is the big difference, no?...we are I think step by step re-building the team a bit but obviously if you have a squad with 15 very good players you can sign another one every year and you’ll always have 15+ and for us right now I think we are signing players little by little and we are improving our squad but evidently we must continue to improve the team because in the Leaague we can’t compete for 9 months at the pace that teams like United or Chelsea have set.
[Joserra] Now when a manager leaves for a team, especially when it’s a foreign team do they tend to surround themselves also of a “praetorian guard” of players that evidently need to be good but that need to be people of confidence.[Rafa] Well the issue is that you try to sign players that you know and that you are sure are going to perform for you…and I talk about this with Eduardo Macia or my technical staff when we talk about the ‘spaniards’ no? In the last few years if you look at the stats, the teams that win in Europe in terms of national youth teams are the Spaniards, no? the U-18, U-17, U-19, U-21, etc they always fight for something…then it’s easier to sign Spanish players because they are good and because you know them and know their mentality…
[Joserra] And you’re not the only one who’s been taking them Chelsea have one [Sergio Tejera], Arsenal have another two or three [Cesc, Fran Merida] also no?[Rafa] Yes, as soon as they can…what happens too is that Arsenal for example have many French players because their manager knows the French market well and they are also very good players, the same with us…Mourinho quickly signed Ferreira and Carvalho…so you try to go for what you know is a guarantee and then you try to get the best of what you have…we have Carra or Gerrard and they’re local boys who you must make use of because they feel the shirt, no?
[Joserra]This final will have the memories of two years ago but also the feeling of revenge…Exactly what happened two years ago at halftime when you were down 3-0 and everybody thought it was over and handed Milan the Cup
[Rafa] [Sarcastic]That’s a new question Joserra [Alcala chuckles in the background]
[Joserra]I know it’s not a new question! That you’ve been asked this a hundred times but I’ve personally never heard the…[Rafa] The original version…
[Joserra]Yes…the original version…
[Rafa] The original version is that as I’m writing down what to say when we were down 2-0 and In English!...because my English right now is not very good but it was even much worse then…so I’m writing what to say and they scored the third goal…so then I say well….and then as soon as I’m walking I hear the supporters and I know they are still there with us and I started thinking of what to say and we come in the dressing room and we had Hamann to come in midfield and switch to 3 at the back and have Hamann to control the midfield a bit more at our back where Kaká was making constant runs at our defence and well I told the boys we’ve gotten this far, it’s 3-0 and we have nothing to lose so lets try to score a goal and give our fans something to cheer about and we started with that idea, we changed the team tactically…but then I was told that Finnan…I had already made the Kewell substitution and the second change was Traore for Hamann but when I had it all set up but the physio told me that Finnan wasn’t going to last the entire match so I had to change him for sure…If I made two subs and had to waste the third early in the second half then I couldn’t make any variations later on so I told Traore to get dressed again and then I took Finnan off…and that’s why there are some versions that say “Ah, there was a big misunderstanding”…and the problem is that when I was done re-organizing the team we had to make that change.
[Joserra] Your best memory from that final that hasn’t been talked about what is it?[ Rafa] The best memory? Well, at the end with all the players hugging each other and such there were some saying we must build a great team to win the league and so on and one in particular who I won’t mention, [laughs] you have to make me the best in the world! Said one at the time.
[Joserra] And is it true that for next season you could be interested in Eto’o, Villa, Torres…players from La Liga?[Rafa] If I were to give you the entire list of players in La Liga that Liverpool are after, pfffff…we’d never end… every time there is a footballer or somebody who is trying to promote a player *poom* Liverpool’s name comes up…and that’s it they’re interested….I think we all know that the players you’ve mentioned and many others are very good, no? and that they could be an interesting option for us or any other team but we can’t sign them all…
[Joserra] Tell me about your new owner…[Rafa] Owners, two of them…Gillett and Hicks, no?...They’re two Americans who also come in with their sons…
[Joserra] You didn’t know them at all before…?[Rafa] No, then later on when the issue came up we started gathering information and they are very experienced in American football, Baseball and Ice Hockey, no? And the truth is that the relationship is very good from the distance because they come sometimes but they’re normally there and now they’re going to send one of the sons who’s going to stay permanently in Liverpool…and the relationship is good, they transmit a lot of positive energy and like always now we have to see little by little what they do.
[Joserra]But do they get involved a lot or do they know a lot about football?[Rafa] No, they’re learning about the game…one of them does…
[Joserra]How did they get involved…just a business venture?[Rafa]No, the son likes the sport a lot and knows the players and talks a little bit about everything and they are slowly getting into it because for them is a whole new experience and they have the knowledge of sports but they realize it’s a completely different thing from American football or Baseball or Ice Hockey with European football because over there sports are basically just entertainment and a lot of times they don’t have the relegation, the pressure of relegation and in contrast we know what the suffering is like for fighting for a title or for relegation and that’s a whole different story.
[Joserra]And the title stretch in La Liga, what’s your take?[Rafa]Well some people or almost all people were saying that Barcelona wasn’t going to hold up but of course after yesterday’s match I get the feeling that they will hold up but the thing is that Madrid are very strong and very hungry and then Sevilla also is very consistent and balanced and then there is Valencia who could be the underdogs, no? then there is still a few matches left for any surprises but I was betting on Barcelona not because I wanted them to win but because I saw them stronger, no? but now I’m not so sure because they’ve had two or three weeks where it’s anybody’s game now.
[Joserra] Do you see this going all the way to the final matchday or before that?[Rafa] I think that since there are various teams involved it may well go to the final matchday
[Joserra] Did you really consider the possibility of coming to Real Madrid?[Rafa] [Laughs] I’m happy in Liverpool and…
[Joserra] I know![Rafa] That was a tricky question because you know I’m not going to say anything and I prefer to be focused on my work…
[Joserra]But it’s impossible to ask you a tricky question because you are well learned on this game and firstly you don’t allow it and secondly you don’t like to get into it so…[Rafa] I’m old enough already
[Joserra] But seriously your idea is to come back to Spain, no?[Rafa] The other day a friend of mine said , manager of the national team when you get old and so on…I think that we all want to go back home deep inside but evidently the experience I’m living right now here in England, in Liverpool is an experience for any manager… the other day I spoke to Serra[Ferrer]and other managers who’ve managed outside of Spain and there is no comparison to England…In England people live football passionately and anything you achieve is madly appreciated and they always remember it…for them to win a title and dedicate it to the supporters is something they are grateful forever, no?
[Alcalá] Do you know Joserra how many managers Liverpool’s had in more than, I don’t know 105 years of history?
[Joserra] I’m sure that less than Atleti in the last 10 years…[Alcalá]I think Rafa Benitez is number 18.
[Joserra] [laughs incredulously][Alcalá]Somebody joked the other day that It’s the same number of managers Madrid’s had since they sacked Del Bosque.[Rafa] In general, in England…
[Alcalá] The respect that there is, it’s something that when I see you I see you so into it, so happy, so comfortable, so integrated and so excited that you may go back to Spain but your life right now is Liverpool…[Rafa] Yes because look…Ferguson’s been 20 years but Wenger….
[communication breaks off]
[Joserra] 12:38 PM…There are storms all over the ‘Iberian Empire’ and our RDCI was cut off and you possibly had your emission cut off at home…We’re with Alcalá in that hotel in Athens where Rafa was explaining us his situation in the days prior to the final of the Champions… What’s the worse thing, the thing you have the most trouble with in England?[Rafa]Well in general for me it’s similar so I don’t…
[Joserra] There’s gotta be something… I don’t know… the food?
[Rafa] No, because my wife cooks and she’s very good and the other day I got home and we had a ‘tortilla de patatas’(Spanish omelet)that was fantastic…so in that aspect I don’t have a problem…perhaps the thing that bothers me personally is that even though that in Spain there is the perception that I speak English well, people who really speak English know that I kick the dictionary in the teeth quite often so Shakespeare must be having nightmares about me.
[Joserra]But you learned quick[Rafa] I was telling some of your fellow journalists that I had a friend over from Spain who came boasting “ I had an A in English, I shouldn’t have a problem” and we he got here he couldn’t understand a word because it’s like if you bring somebody to Cádiz and say well these are Spanish people talk to them…
[Joserra] But how do you sound? Like Robinson in Spanish or like Radomir Antic?[Rafa] [laughs] Yeah, more or less…nah , Robinson’s been there for many years but like when Robinson started out or like when I hear Toshack sometimes when he speaks Spanish he says “idea, idea” and you always have some words like slip out like that…I have some problems but what happens is that I get by repeating the same words all the time, no? you basically say the same things with the words that you know. Like little kids who have a smaller vocabulary you have to do the same.
[Joserra] We’re all rooting for Liverpool on Wednesday, eh?[Rafa] Yes?
[Joserra] I promise you that[Rafa]Yes, we have a lot of Spaniards, no?[Alcalá]One thing only…in the starting eleven, you’re not going to tell me but…how many Spaniards will be on the starting eleven?...because maybe there is only one…[Rafa]Right now I don’t know because we do have some players with knocks so we have to look into that but…Luis is injured so…[Alcalá]No, no, no…I know [laughs] don’t evade it[Rafa] [laughs] Maybe there’s only one? I don’t know it could be…
[Joserra] But the boss is Spanish and he’s on the bench[Rafa] No, but here there is a staff of workers and at least I don’t have that idea of “The Boss” I think that if we are where we are it is because there are a lot of people working and pushing… who keep up pushing us on
[Joserra] Manager if you lift that trophy on Wednesday, that European Cup…the Champions…for a moment think that there are millions of Spaniards who will be lifting it with you.[Rafa] Very well , thank you very much… I will remember
[Joserra] Cheers[Rafa] Cheers[Alcalá]And that’s the phrase too…If they lift that trophy on Wednesday there will be many people who will be happy in Spain because it’s a very special match…a bit the closing of the European season…the final of the champions…a huge match with an atmosphere that is rising and on Wednesday there will be 20.000 Liverpool fans and 20.000 Milan fans the whole atmosphere in the Olympic stadium of Athens and fuck looking at some fellow countrymen like Rafa, Pako Ayestaran, Victor Salinas, Ochotorena, Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia, Pepe Reina, Arbeloa… I don’t think I leave anyone out…Macia…well makes us proud.
For those of you who understand Spanish or simply want to listen to the interview copy and paste the link below into your windows media and move the search bar to around the 13' mark and it runs all the way to the end of the clip. Cheers mms://a272.v78075.c7807.e.vm.akamaistream.net/7/272/7807/46522413/prisaffs.download.akamai.com/7807/cadenaser/2007/05/20070522csrcsrdep_2_Aes_LAU.asf